(Bloomberg) -- Carlyle Group Inc. sees plenty of opportunity to tap further growth in the world’s most popular sport and remains keen on a deal for Italian football’s media rights.
Speaking at private equity’s SuperReturn International conference in Berlin, Carlyle Group Inc. managing director Marco De Benedetti said his firm was looking at more sports deals.
“Football and sports in general has proven to be a very valuable property that has further potential to exploit,” De Benedetti said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
Carlyle is among buyout firms that has been looking to gain exposure to football’s media rights as European leagues seek to bring in new money and expertise.
Such deals have already been struck in Spain and France, and Italy could be next. The country’s Serie A league wants to attract major international lenders and investors to help shore up its finances after struggling for years to find backers.
“Now finally an adviser has been appointed for that process,” De Benedetti said of a possible media rights deal involving Serie A. “That’s certainly something we’re interested in.”
Serie A was once seen as the world’s leading football league, boasting legends of the game including Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Del Piero. But it’s suffered from years of financial neglect. Revenue for the Covid 19-affected 2020/2021 season was around €2.5 billion (€2.7 billion), according to Deloitte, while England’s Premier League generated more than twice as much.
Separately, De Benedetti said Carlyle could provide some financing on one of the biggest deals in world sport: a potential takeover of English Premier League football team Manchester United Plc. De Benedetti said Carlyle Europe Partners — the firm’s European buyout arm — had no plans to take a minority stake in the football club itself.
UK billionaire Jim Ratcliffe is competing with a group of investors from Qatar to buy Manchester United from the US Glazer family. Other investment firms, including Elliott Investment Management, Ares Management LLC and Oaktree Capital Group, are willing to provide financing on any deal.
Read More: German Football Rejects Media Rights Sale to Private Equity
(Updates detail on Manchester United deal in final paragraphs.)
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